February 28, 2007

Children With Mental Illnesses to Get At-Home Services

A federal judge (Ponsor), in response to a lawsuit, had ruled on the side of children's families that the state of Massachusetts had indeed illegally forced thousands of mentally ill children "to endure unnecessary confinement in residential facilities."

The Boston Globe says that the judge has decided against the children's advocate's request for a broad revamping of the system, in favor of the state's more modest plan to "fix the system" by providing services in the children's own homes. The proposal from the families was more detailed and advocated more extensive care for children and their families, including specific services after school and training for parents (family psychoeducation is effective for lowering relapse rate and need for hospitalization).

According to the judge, he accepted the state's proposal as a "practical matter" - a compromise offering the best hope of getting the children the desperately needed help. This decision would avoid years of legal wrangling which would have left the children either in institutions or ignored them altogether.

Some advocates are happy about the decision, saying that it will finally provide coordinated services for poor children suffering from conditions that range from attention deficit disorder to schizophrenia. However, others warn that some children have severe neurobiological brain disorders which require adequate hospital services which the state's plan does not address.

"I do think this is going to help -- I don't want to be negative," said Matteodo, executive director of the Massachusetts Association of Behavioral Health Systems. But, he said, "the problems are so severe, not only with the kids but with their families, that it's probably not going to solve everything."

Read the full article: Read the full article: Mentally ill children to get help at home: Judge approves plan to bolster state services

Related Reading:
Foster Care as a Last Resort to Obtain Psychiatric Treatment for One's Children
US Health System Getting Worse, Says Expert
The Effects of Stress on Family Caregivers


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